SPIKE LEE is a notable writer, director, producer, actor,
and author, who revolutionized both the landscape of independent cinema and the
role of black talent in film. Widely regarded as a premiere African-American
filmmaker, Lee is a forerunner in the do-it-yourself school of filmmaking.
Spike's most recent works are Red Hook Summer, a feature film, which
premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012, and a documentary that
celebrates Michael Jackson's successful studio album, Bad 25, which premiered
international at the Venice Film Festival. Previous to this, he released the
Peabody Award winning documentary sequel, If God's Willing and The Creek Don't
Rise, which revisits the recently storm-ravaged Gulf Coast region, as residents
attempt to rebuild in their cities while also demanding assistance and
accountability from their political leaders. This film comes on the heels of
2006's When the Levees Broke, the groundbreaking first documentary that followed
the plight of Americans stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Set in 1944, Lee's 2008 theatrical release Miracle At St. Anna follows the
story of four black American soldiers, members of the all-black 92nd 'Buffalo
Soldier' Division in the US army, while trapped behind enemy lines in Tuscany,
Italy during World War II. An avid sports enthusiast, Lee also completed a
one-day, 18-camera documentary shoot focusing on NBA standout Kobe Bryant, of
the Los Angeles Lakers. Produced for ESPN, the unique piece is entitled Kobe
Doin' Work. Another recent project, Passing Strange, the critically acclaimed
Broadway musical, explores the travels of a young African American musician in
search of himself. Passing Strange debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.
Other critical and box office successes have included such films as Inside
Man, 25th Hour, The Original Kings of Comedy, Bamboozled, and Summer of Sam.
Lee's films Girl 6, Get On the Bus, Do the Right Thing, and Clockers display his
ability to showcase a series of outspoken and provocative socio-political
critiques that challenge cultural assumptions, not only about race, but class
and gender identity as well.
His debut film, the independently produced comedy She's Gotta Have It, earned
him the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film festival in 1986, and set him
at the forefront of the Black New Wave in American Cinema. His second feature,
the very profitable and critically acclaimed School Daze, helped launch the
careers of several young Black actors. Lee's timely 1989 film, Do the Right
Thing, garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and
Best Film and Director awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
Lee's Jungle Fever, Mo' Better Blues, Clockers, and Crooklyn were also well
received by critics and fans alike. His epic drama Malcolm X, starring Denzel
Washington, received two Academy Award nominations.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Brooklyn, Lee returned south to
attend Morehouse College. After graduation, he returned to Brooklyn to continue
his education at New York University's Tisch School of Arts in Manhattan, where
he received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in film production. He founded 40
Acres and a Mule Filmworks, based in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, where
he has resided since childhood.
In addition to his film achievements, Lee has produced and directed numerous
music videos for diverse artists including Chaka Khan, Tracy Chapman, Anita
Baker, Public Enemy, Bruce Hornsby and Michael Jackson. His other music videos
include work for the late Miles Davis and Phyllis Hyman, Naughty by Nature and
Lee's commercial work began in 1988 with his Nike Air Jordan campaign.
Collaborating with basketball great Michael Jordan on several commercials, Lee
resurrected his popular character, Mars Blackmon from She's Gotta Have It. He
has also completed a PSA for UNCF entitled Two Michaels, which also features
Michael Jordan. Lee is also well known for his Levi's Button-Fly 501, AT&T and
ESPN television commercials. His other commercial ventures include TV spots for
Philips, Nike, American Express, Snapple and Taco Bell. Lee has also directed
several Art Spot Shorts for MTV, and a short film featuring Branford Marsalis
and Diahnne Abbott for Saturday Night Live.
Lee is also involved in documentaries and sports programs. He completed the
Emmy- and Oscar -nominated documentary 4 Little Girls for HBO, and received an
Emmy Award for his piece on Georgetown's John Thompson for HBO/Real Sports.
Additionally, Lee has authored six books on the making of his films. The
fifth book, Five For Five, served as a pictorial reflection of his first five
features. He then followed up with Best Seat in the House, authored with Ralph
Wiley. Lee co-authored a children's book entitled, Please, Baby Please with his
wife Tonya Lewis Lee, and most recently authored a retrospective book about his
film career entitled, That's My Story and I'm Sticking To It.
Ever moving into new areas, Spike Lee has combined his extensive creative
experience into yet another venture. Partnering with DDB Needham, he created
Spike/DDB, a full-service advertising agency.
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